HP's Earth Insights deploys big data tech against eco threats

By helping environmental scientists track threats to wildlife habitats, HP is also demonstrating the full range of its technologies and services.


HP has turned its Vertica big data technology to the task of helping ecologists detect risks to threatened species.

The company announced HP Earth Insights on Tuesday, a joint project with non-governmental organisation Conservation International designed to speed up the analysis of environmental data.

The project acts as a showcase not only for HP's big data technology but also for the full range of its products and services, from HP ElitePads for scientists to capture data in the field, to HP ProLiant servers behind back-end systems, and cloud services.

"HP Earth Insights uses our products and services to deliver near real-time analytics to provide scientists with more accurate and more actionable environmental information," HP president and CEO Meg Whitman said in a statement.

HP's big-data technology is being used in the ecological research conducted in 16 tropical forests by Conservation International, the Smithsonian Institution and the Wildlife Conservation Society, as part of the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network.

According to HP, the project provides a type of "early warning system for threatened species" by generating trend data on endangered animals using near real-time data analytics.

Conservation International chairman and CEO Peter Seligmann said what used to take a team of scientists weeks or even months to analyse could now be accomplished by an individual in hours.

The project uses a combination of HP's Vertica big-data technology for structured and semi-structured data, and Hadoop, with work under way on using Autonomy IDOL for unstructured data - all key elements in the company's HAVEn analytics offering.

HP Enterprise Services has built a dashboard and analytics tool called the Wildlife Picture Index to enable scientists to visualise the data from any location at any time.

HP SVP for GM information management and analytics Martin Risau said the analytics tool takes scientific data out of the Vertica system and runs about 140 million simulations on it using a complex statistical method.

About 1,000 camera traps and climate sensors have been positioned by Conservation International and HP in forests in countries ranging from Brazil to Uganda and Indonesia, to gather data.

The measurements cover a number of subjects, including the species themselves, vegetation, precipitation, temperature, carbon stocks, humidity, and solar radiation.

HP said Earth Insights consists of a growing amount and variety of data, including more than 1.4 million photos, three million climate measurements and 3TB of biodiversity information.

The results of the analytics will be shared with protected area managers, as well as with governments, academic institutions, non-governmental bodies and the private sector, so that they can act to protect threatened wildlife and develop policies to address threats to habitats.

According to the company, the project is already yielding new information indicating declines in a significant number of the species monitored.

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